University of London's Michelle Brown Can Prove Ancient Manuscripts Still Matter

Nov. 8, 2013
Michelle BrownMichelle Brown courtesy photo.

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WACO, Texas (Nov. 7, 2013) - In the world where social media, apps and Google lie at the tips of our fingers, huge, clunky manuscripts from the Biblical era are simply irrelevant. Right?


Michelle Brown, Ph.D., formerly the manuscript curator at the British Library and currently professor of medieval manuscript studies at the University of London, is coming to Baylor University to talk about the importance of illuminated manuscripts in the past and present.

The Honors College, department of classics and the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor are sponsoring this event as part of the annual Honors College Lecture series. Brown will give her lecture, "Envisioning the Word: Illuminated Manuscripts and the Transmission of the Bible from Late Antiquity to 1500," from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11.

Brown has been on campus before, when she taught a course as part of a partnership between Baylor University and the Green Scholars Initiative in the summer of 2012. The GSI provides opportunities for students to study ancient texts and items related to Judeo-Christian history.

"We have about 30 undergraduate students involved in one way or another in this field of study," said David Lyle Jeffrey, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities in the Baylor Honors Program, who also is a member of GSI. "Virtually all of these students are from the Honors College and most have a solid background in classics."

Since Brown is one of the few experts on this very specialized field, this is a great opportunity for students interested in illuminated manuscripts, said Daniel Nodes, Ph.D., chair of the department of classics in the College of Arts & Sciences.

"She is one who has dedicated herself to this to sometime for now," he said. "She's one of the few who can claim to be an expert.

"Anytime there's someone who has risen to special level of ability, students can be in the presence of a person who carries a certain legacy . . . It's very valuable for students to have a chance to hear these sorts of leaders in their fields."

Brown's expertise in her field is very helpful to the mission of Baylor's Honors College.

"One of the cultural issues that most motivates us in the Honors College is the erasure of cultural memory in our time, and the great cost of that loss to religious, cultural and linguistic participation in the wider global world," which is why it's important to know the roots of the written word, Jeffrey said.

". . . the medieval care to make Bibles and Christian texts things of beauty elevates and challenges the way we think of the role of Scripture in our culture in a post-print, digital age," he said.

"There's an old saying about standing on the shoulders of a giant," Nodes said. "Every time we treat ourselves to new technology and new ways to transmit information, we're part of a very long tradition of a production of ways to save and view the fleeting word and image."

"I think Michelle has a unique appreciation for Baylor's vision of doing world-class research within a faith-based university," said Byron Johnson, Ph.D., director of ISR. "Students attending will get the chance to hear from a true academic star who is passionate about her work and her faith."

The lecture will take place in Armstrong Browning Library, 710 Speight Ave.

by Rachel Miller, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


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